Alliance aims to address business issues facing contractors

The National Telecom Alliance (NTA-Houston, TX), formed in February, seeks to provide practical answers to the business questions of telecommunications contractors and electrical contractors entering the telecommunications business

The National Telecom Alliance (NTA-Houston, TX), formed in February, seeks to provide practical answers to the business questions of telecommunications contractors and electrical contractors entering the telecommunications business.

Michael O'Mara, a founder of the alliance, comments, "To capture and maintain quality clients, contractors must recognize that their customers aren't general contractors anymore, but technology professionals who expect a high degree of customer service. NTA offers just such tools for our members."

A statement by the group announcing its formation said that it was founded based on research that identified two dynamics at work in the telecommunications contracting industry. First, many electrical contractors have often been unsuccessful trying to expand their telecommunications divisions so that they represent more than 10% of the contractors' annual revenues. At the same time, contractors who engage only in telecommunications-cabling work have seen unparalleled growth over the past five years, and have had difficulty developing the infrastructure and implementing the business systems to adequately support this growth.

The NTA claims to offer an environment that can help both causes. For example, it positions its SMART (sales, marketing and revenue tools) program as having the ability to help turn an electrical contracting firm into a sales-driven organization-which it will need to be in order to succeed in the future, the NTA says.

"Market fluctuations in the last 12 months have led to changes in the telecommunications industry that will require more aggressive sales and management techniques for contractors working in those markets," O'Mara says. "Telecommunications customers are becoming more demanding, requiring contractors to bundle services, respond more timely, and provide seamless delivery of multi-location projects, often in a several-state geographic region."

O'Mara is a managing partner of Acquisitions Management Group, a Houston, TX-based firm. Anderson & Howard, an Irvine, CA-based electrical and telecommunications contractor, is another founding member of NTA. The group also has a board of advisors.

In addition to sales training, NTA plans to offer a software package aimed at streamlining job estimating, purchasing, and management; education courses on how to operate a business as a customer-service-driven entity; a program by which members can get work from and provide solutions for large customers by teaming with other alliance members; and rebate and incentive programs with certain manufacturers and distributors.

O'Mara says he expects NTA members to get about 75% of their membership value from the various programs offered, "and 25% comes from the fact that you are in a room with peers, exchanging viewpoints." He says he would like the organization to be known as "the world's largest peer group."

The alliance is holding what it calls its first national summit May 18-19 at the Mirage hotel and resort in Las Vegas, NV. The gathering immediately precedes the second VDV Expo, sponsored by the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA-Bethesda, MD) and held at Las Vegas' Riviera hotel. VDV Expo was launched last year specifically targeting electrical contractors that are in, or are soon to be in, the telecommunications-cabling business. But even though the two events may target a very similar audience, the NTA summit is a separate venture, not held in collaboration with NECA's VDV Expo.

-Patrick McLaughlin

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